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Opinions on tractor-trailer parking during Madison City meeting

It was a rather fervid conference at the Madison City Commission meeting held Wednesday, Dec. 9. The room was packed as citizens of Madison crowded in to express their opinions of the ordinance clarification regarding the parking of tractor-trailers being allowed to park in areas that had been zoned as residential. The ordinance stated that an owner/operator of a tractor-trailer vehicle would be allowed to park 24/7 within 300 feet of his/her residence, which, depending on the residential area, could involve parking in front of a neighbor’s residence. Pat Lightcap came to the podium first, expressing his concerns in that the ordinance seemed to fail to consider nine items: public health, safety, morals, order, comfort, convenience, appearance, prosperity and general welfare. Lightcap said the ordinance needed better clarification. “The ordinance does not seem to address the truck weight issue,” said Lightcap. Lightcap continued to address as he debated whether or not Madison’s residential roadway infrastructure could support the regular weight of up to 80,000 lbs. as allowed by the Department of Transportation, for truck and cargo. “The law does not address how to get to the residence, meaning they can drive down any street in the city,” said Lightcap. The ordinance did not cover whether or not the truck could or could not be loaded with cargo, or what matter of cargo could be permitted, such as cattle, produce or any other sort. “What I saw of the amended law is that it’s full of holes,” said Lightcap. The ordinance did not seem to write out concrete regulations for what would or would not be permitted and he hoped for better clarification and thought regarding the ordinance. Another concern that was brought before the public and before the Commissioners came from Kathy Sail, a chairman of the Planning and Zoning Committee. “Are we going to hire a new city employee to go around and measure 300 feet?” Sail asked. “Who is going to enforce this?” Sail raised concerns about property values, newcomers moving into Madison and the safety of children who live in the neighborhoods where big trucks will be permitted to drive through. “If you let this happen, then Madison is going back at least 30 years,” Sail declared before leaving the podium. The general air of the meeting from the citizens who came to the podium seemed to be angry and disappointed with the city for permitting the ordinance to even be considered. Meaningful concerns were raised regarding the appearance of Madison’s neighborhoods, the roads that would be put under considerable strain from the added weight of the trucks and their possibly cargo-filled trailers, the safety of the children who live and play in the neighborhoods and the fact that many of the roads within the residential areas of Madison are simply too narrow to support a safe flow of traffic if a truck is parked there. However, a reverse argument was raised that people who live in these neighborhoods and own property there were not permitted to park outside their own homes. “I don’t see anything wrong with my husband parking his truck, in his yard,” a citizen argued. “You aren’t thinking about the people who own their property and want to park in their own yards,” another citizen said at the podium. “Why aren’t they allowed to park in their own yards?” Both sides raised valuable arguments and concerns regarding the ordinance, and the meeting ended in the hopes that the City Commissioners consider all the factors to come to the best possible solution for the city of Madison and its citizens. Police Chief Ken Moore also came forward during the meeting to give the public safety report for Madison County as well as an update on the K-9 program. The training at Leon County is free of charge to Madison County, but as such it is also slow going. However, there are hopes that before much longer, there will be a certified police dog here in Madison County. No estimated date was provided. Other business included a “Christmas in July” program for Madison County’s homeless students headed up by the Kiwanis club, a bow-hunting on city property request from a citizen, Water/wastewater impact fees, a discussion of the sale of city property and an Interlocal agreement regarding a temporary building officer.

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